With delightful tunes and passionate pianists, our weekly Sunday gathering at the URA Centre would always draw curious onlookers to stay, watch and listen. Welcome to Pianovers Meetup! Where music is indeed a universal language that is shared between people from all walks of life, and the love for piano music simply connects piano lovers. It is a community of piano enthusiasts comprising of anyone really – we’ve got piano teachers, young beginner pianists and even self-taught pianists who play by ear. And, let’s not forget those who just enjoy listening to piano tunes. All are welcome to join!
As with all Pianovers Meetups, the get-together is preceded by an informal dinner first with the Founder of ThePiano.SG, Sng Yong Meng. ThePiano.SG is the official organiser of Pianovers events. Today's dinner crowd included Hiro, Jeremy, William Lee, Elyn, Joey and Heap Yong, and their children Sky and Star, many of whom were making their debut performance at the Pianovers Meetup that evening. We are so glad and proud to support them in their journey as pianists!
With the Meetup happening on the eve of Mid-Autumn Festival, 23 September, the event was nonetheless themed according to the festivities. Some took the opportunity to dress their best (we had a couple of Pianovers adorned in Cheongsams) while others, brimming with excitement, were taking group photos to commemorate the special evening. It also brings us immense joy to see many regular Pianovers return and even bring new friends along to celebrate the occasion with us. We are so heartened to see our community grow from week to week, where last Sunday was like a big family party!
But what’s party without its food? Of course, our dear Pianovers kindly brought food and even props to enliven the event. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank them: GladDana, thank you for bringing your delicious homemade mooncakes. Teik Lee, thank you for the mooncake contribution too! Chris, not only did you bring mooncakes, you helped quench our thirst with mineral water too – appreciate it! Elyn, we’re grateful for your exciting array of 猪笼饼, mooncakes and lanterns to brighten the evening, on top of the very important kettle for tea-making. Ee Fong – the peanuts, sweets, melon seeds, gorgeous blue tea and lanterns are sweet additions to the feast, thank you!
We’d also like to thank Hiro for the second kettle, and tea as well! Last, but not least, our regular Pianover, Siew Tin, for contributing a vegetarian option for mooncakes. Thank you, all! Your goodies and tea made last Sunday’s meetup such a festive one, where Pianovers enjoyed great music, cheered on fellow Pianovers, while filling their bellies. And, not forgetting the lanterns, which were placed at “key” points – on piano chairs and on top of the piano – did we already mention how incredibly joyous and festive it was? Lovely!
Inspired by the Mooncake Festival, the first song to aptly grace the piano for the evening’s Mini-Recital was 城里的月光 (The City’s Moonlight), performed by newcomer William Lee at the gathering. Welcome, William! We’re looking forward to hearing more from you. William came with Renxing, his wife, who lent her support as an audience member.
A song that is truly made in Singapore, by Singaporeans, 城里的月光 is first sung and made popular by singer 许美静 and composed by 陈佳明, who is dubbed as the local version of Taiwanese’s respected musician and producer 李宗盛. The song can be found in a 1995 album compilation that features other popular songs such 铁窗 and 遗憾, also performed and composed by 许美静 and 陈佳明, two prominent artists who have made their mark in the local music scene.
Also making her debut last Sunday was Sonya, who is a student of piano teacher and Pianover Corrine Ying. It was wonderful to see Corrine bringing Sonya here for an out-of-classroom experience – something we are always actively encouraging at Pianovers Meetups! Nothing beats the confidence that a performer gains when playing in a public space and, of course, we believe that students can meet new friends who share the same interest in the instrument too.
Young Sonya played a soundtrack piece entitled Laputa by Joe Hisaishi, for a Japanese animation film of the same title. Produced by Studio Ghibli, the story of ‘Laputa’ sets forth the mystical adventure of a young boy and girl in search of a floating castle. While looking for the elusive castle, they must also prevent a magic crystal from landing in the wrong hands.
Up next was resident Pianover Siew Tin, who performed 月圆花好 by 严华 , and 云河 by 刘家昌. The song 月圆花好 made its first appearance in 1940, and was an interlude for the movie "西厢记". Originally performed by Chinese film actress and singer 周璇, the song eventually became an evergreen favourite that was covered by several notable singers such as Teresa Teng and even male vocalists like 费玉清. Encompassing the meaningful lyrics is its title, which extends as a congratulatory phrase of perfect happiness and conjugal bliss offered to newlyweds.
Aside from playing the instrument with such fervor, we also noticed Siew Tin donning a piano-themed T-shirt currently also available on our Online Store! Her love for the piano is simply inspiring!
Keeping up with the moon references, long-time Pianover Albert presented us two songs – first was "月下の胡弓 (Gekka No Kokyu)" by 加賀谷伸 , followed by "半个月亮爬上来" by 王洛宾. Trivia time! Inspired by a traditional song entitled "依拉拉，沙依格", 王洛宾 kept this title in the lyrics of "半个月亮爬上来". However, much to the dismay of performers and listeners due to the phonetic similarities between the lyrics "沙依格" and "杀一个", which means “to kill one”, the composer had to rewrite the inauspicious and inappropriate lyrics. He later changed not only the problematic phrase to "爬上来" but also the concept of the entire song to a love story narrative of a suitor attempting to catch the attention of a girl from her window. This narrative was inspired by a half-moon as a backdrop and a window of translucent curtains evoking romantic emotions.
Gavin Koh followed thereafter, adding a Chinese piece to his eclectic repertoire. Entitled 平湖秋月, the song was written by 吕文成 when the composer toured a lake in Hang Zhou called the West Lake, also known as 杭州西湖, in the 1930s. The song is deemed as the composer’s homage to the beauty of the lake, wherein he expresses his feelings and love for the great landscape. The piece that we heard at the Pianovers Meetup is a piano solo piece transcribed by 陈培勋 in 1975.
And what is a Mooncake Festival-themed recital without the quintessential Chinese classic “moon song”? Playing 月亮代表我的心 (‘The Moon Represents My Heart’), by composer 翁清溪, was piano enthusiast Yu Teik Lee.
Historically, 月亮代表我的心 made a breakthrough as a pioneering piece that entered the Chinese music market when China’s then new ‘Open Door Policy’ was established towards the end of the 1970s. This meant that the classic was deemed as a “gangtai song”, which refers to songs of the pop musical styles of Hong Kong or Taiwan. With such foreign gangtai songs entering the country for the first time, it led to a noteworthy shift in mainland China’s local music scene. Teresa was honoured to have been given the opportunity to perform in China.
In light of Teresa Teng’s unexpected departure in 1995 due to an asthma attack, Chinese singer songwriter Faye Wong published a cover of Teng’s song 但愿人长久 as a tribute, of which Pianover Kendrick Ong performed that evening. Composed by 梁弘志, its poetic lyrics were adapted from "水调歌头", a work of a renaissance man, 苏轼, of the Song Dynasty. The song revolved around themes of longing, yearning and well-wishing from distant loved ones. We have to say, with often touching lyrics, and beautiful melodies carried by the sweet voice of Teresa Teng – her songs are understandably a mainstay in Pianovers Meetups. Kendrick also played 无心害你 a theme song from Hong Kong TV Drama 家好月圆 that was composed by 邓智伟.
As we slowly move towards the mid-recital, the setlist featured more songs of Western composers. With Pianover May Ling’s turn on the keys, she presented us with a triple treat medley of moon-themed songs! The medley showcased ‘Moondance’ by Van Morrison, ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ by Sherman Kelly, and ‘天台的月光’ by 周杰倫 (Jay Chou).
‘天台的月光’ was a 2013 musical film from Taiwan, and was the second feature film directed by the Taiwanese singer/actor and composer himself. It took on a similar concept from his first feature film, ‘Secret’. In ‘Secret’, Jay played multiple roles in film production – he was the main lead, director, script-writer and music composer.
You know you’ve got a passionate group of Pianovers when the Meetup experiences interesting piano fun like a "Song Request". A few days ago, Zhijing had kindly requested Hiro to play Auf Flügeln des Gesanges (On Wings of Song), Op. 34 No. 2 by Felix Mendelssohn, "live" at the Meetup. Hiro agreed, and played it beautifully for everyone present. Yong Meng commented that these requests could certainly be an interesting segment for future Meetups, and also joked that the person requesting will have to applaud the loudest. In response, Zhijing did it without hesitation and brought laughter to the recital – such good fun.
Next, we saw Chris Khoo playing two pieces. The first piece was 月儿像柠檬 by 红叶 while the second piece is Roots Mural Theme by Quincy Jones, which makes it his 100th performance at Pianovers Meetup – congratulations, Chris! The latter piece is based on the 1976 novel "Roots: The Saga of an American Family" by Alex Haley, which sparked interest in genealogy and appreciation for African American history. The story narrative is set in the 18th century and follows the life of Kunta Kinte, from his abduction as a teenager, to being enslaved in Africa, his forceful movement to North America, as well as his descendants’ lives in the United States, including author Haley. The novel was adapted for television in 1977 where the programme met great reception and success, shooting to fame as a prominent work of 20th Century U.S.
Joining the debut performers last Sunday was also Jeremy, who is – surprise surprise – the piano student of a friend of Yong Meng’s, Tan Weilie. The Pianovers community is indeed a tight-knit one! Jeremy’s inaugural piece was Daisuke Kikuta’s Michishirube (Guidepost), the end theme song in a Japanese anime series ‘Violet Evergarden’. Violet Evergarden was nominated in the Kyoto Animation Awards in 2014, under the novel category. Owing to the captivating theme of this movie, it clinched the grand prize of this category! It was released at the end of January this year under Lantis, as Japanese voice actress Minori Chihara’s 25th single.
Taking to the ivories next was Sky Seah, who also made his debut performance though with three pieces played at a steady pace. The first was Always With Me’ by Youmi Kimura, followed by Laputa by Joe Hisaishi, and lastly Staccato Beans: No. 2 from Eight Memories in Watercolor by Tan Dun.
A popular piece at Pianovers Meetups, "Always With Me" came from the 2001 Japanese animated fantasy film "Spirited Away" produced by Studio Ghibli. Eight of Studio Ghibli’s films are among the top 15 anime films made in Japan by sales turnover. "Spirited Away" was the second highest-grossing film and brought in USD290 million worldwide. The film recounts the amazing experiences of ten-year-old Chihiro. When Chihiro enters the spirit world with her parents, they are transformed into pigs by the witch Yubaba. Chihiro then tries to free the whole family and return to the human world.
Coming after her brother was Star Seah, who ran a piano marathon with four songs – an admirable feat for a first-time performer at a Pianovers Meetup! Her setlist was Allegretto: first movement from Sonatina No. 3 in F’ by Thomas Attwood, Song: second movement from Serenade, Op. 183 No. 1 by Carl Reinecke, Minuet in G by Christian Petzold, and finally 挥着翅膀的女孩 by 陈光荣.
Fun fact! "Minuet in G" was originally thought to have been written by JS Bach. However, it was discovered much later to have been the creation of Christian Petzold!
Showcasing the only jazz piece of the night was Julia Goh. It’s great to see you again, Julia! Joining and celebrating the mid-autumn festivities and supporting Julia were her two friends, Bill and Tat Sum, with his daughter. Julia tinkled the keys with Autumn Leaves by Joseph Kosma, a Hungarian-French composer. A notable cover was done by English rock and blues guitarist and singer, Eric Clapton, where it appeared in his 2010 album.
Next, we had Lim Ee Fong playing 但愿人长久 by 梁弘志, which was earlier performed by Kendrick Ong. Nonetheless, Pianovers still enjoyed the sweet lovely tunes passionately performed by Ee Fong. Yong Meng would like to thank Ee Fong for keeping a cup of butterfly pea flower tea for him. Because all the tea brought for the occasion that Sunday were simply delicious, and so it soon ran out, it was great that Ee Fong left a serving for Yong Meng!
As another “debut performer” of the evening, Bill Tang joined us for the very first time with a piece on 梁祝 (Butterfly Lovers) by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang, and a second performance on 我愿意 by 黄国伦. 梁祝 is actually a 1958 work for violin and orchestra for one of China's Four Great Folktales (中国四大民间传说) of the same title. The other folktales being the Legend of the White Snake (白蛇传), Lady Meng Jiang (孟姜女哭长城), and The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid (牛郎织女).
The Mini-Recital came to an end with Josh Loh’s take on Our Detective Agency by Nancy Faber. As it was also his first Meetup and debut performance, it was wonderful to see Josh’s parents, Jon and Ixna, giving him the moral support as audience members. Well done, Josh! We hope to hear more from you at future Pianovers Meetup.
Entering the final part of the Pianovers Meetup, the Open Segment, Pianovers took the opportunity to further commemorate the event with a must-have group photo with children holding lanterns! And, as of the tradition of Pianovers Meetups, we opened the floor of two pianos to all Pianovers looking to jam.
The jamming saw a new high in the recent months when the pianos were placed side by side and at one point, five players were jamming together! Many songs engulfed the atmosphere, much to the delight of other Pianovers who joined in with their voices, singing to their hearts’ content. Surely, this is a night to remember, where the bonds of our friendships grew stronger.
If you like what you read, do remember that you can be a part of our Pianovers Meetup too! Our weekly gathering is a wonderful way to enjoy a Sunday evening weekend, and even more so the perfect way for piano lovers to end the week.
On this note, we’d like to thank you, Pianovers, for making this event ever so lively with your music and friendship. Pianovers forever!